Stretch your food budget tribe - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-02-2008, 03:48 PM
 
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Oh, I'm not close to a Costco or Trader Joes, I'm looking forward to exploring some farmer's markets this summer, and cooking more things on the grill.

We have a Sam's club membership that we're going to let expire in July, but I'm wondering if we get a freezer if I shoud load up on anything from there. I prefer shopping at the grocery store closest to my house and I'd like to focus on working their sales. I've also discovered Aldi but don't know if it's worth a special trip that much.

ETA: Oh, and I love sushi, but also have no interest in making it at home.... We usually get sushi once or twice a year at a restaurant and its' a real treat.
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Old 05-05-2008, 08:38 PM
 
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How do you freeze your meat? We have a small deep freezer which I love to fill up, but it seems like everything I pull from there has ice all over it. I use ziploc freezer bags, try to squeeze as much air out as possible, etc.

I actually don't mind it that much, but DP complains sometimes about it. I'm just not sure if there's anything else I can do.
I didn't make it far enough in the thread to know if someonee else answered this so apologies is this is a duplicate. We bought a vacum sealer (from Target/walmart, etc.) and we use it constantly. It really keeps food from the dreaded freezer burn that used to plague us. I use it for seafood, meat, veggies,everything! I do not microwave in it but allow food to thaw in the fridge or sink. It has saved us tons in wasted dollars from freezer burned food!
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:30 PM
 
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So, I try to make most things we would want to eat at home, and save special things, like sushi (don't know where to get sushi grade fish, and could never eat it all even if I did) for going out.
Imitation crab meat (really pollock fish) and smoked salmon make good substitutions for sushi grade fish and taste really really good. Plus, they are probably much cheaper than sushi grade fish and you can buy as much as you will use.

I love sushi, but it is way too expensive to buy, so I have to get my fix from somewhere, lol.

As far as good recipes, Everyday Food magazine is very good. Simple ingredients, all their recipes taste really, really good. I pick up an issue whenever their focus is on something we eat. For example, one issue was devoted to light cooking, another to just chicken, another to sweets, etc. It's the only cooking magazine that's worth it, imo. Recipezaar also has good, ethnic recipes.

I would love to bake all our needs and meal plan. I just don't know where to start. I feel really drained and tired for a long time. I need baby steps, that's all. Anyone have any baby steps they used to meal plan & make everything from scratch?


Ami

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Old 05-05-2008, 11:40 PM
 
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I don't know about baby steps, but I started meal planning and am making 90% of what I make from scratch. I just started by doing an inventory of what we have and menu plan accordingly. Tonight we had salmon, mango-avocado salsa, curry apricot couscous and salad w/ homemade dressing. I think the biggest hurdle of the menu planning is knowing what you have, and what you need. I did go shopping today, I *knew* it was gonna be a biggie week, I had some large ticket items that had to be purchased, but I also got many things to pull us through the next few weeks, so it all balances out IMO.

I do use some bottled marinara sauces, and some canned goods, but I just can't quite make everything from scratch, I'm not going to make our sandwich bread, DH is the one who eats sandwiches and he likes a certain type of bread. I will make all our cookies and baked goods like that. We now make cookies for DH's lunch every Sunday. I do our plan on Sun. too, I talk it out with DH and we figure out what sounds good, what needs to be used and then put it on paper and on the dry erase board on the fridge. We are loving it, and it is saving money because of the shear amount of food that is NOT being wasted, I am truly amazed.

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Old 05-06-2008, 12:08 AM
 
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Hey JTA Mom, check out this thread from the Meal Planning Forum:
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=464552

Read especially post #4! courtenay_e has a very thorough wonderful tutorial on how she does it and I found it tremendously helpful!

HTH!
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Old 05-06-2008, 01:29 AM
 
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I'd love to join this thread. In fact, I'm not sure how I missed it! I could really use some stretching of the food bill!

Mama to (DS 7) and (DD 5), wife to DH

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Old 05-06-2008, 01:29 AM
 
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subbing!

Blissful Mama to DD-(5), DS-(6) and someone new due in November!
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Old 05-06-2008, 03:28 AM
 
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Originally Posted by HappyLamb View Post
I have a question for those who bake their own bread:

how do you slice it?

I always try to bake my own bread for sandwiches, but I always end up frustrated: I always get slices that are too thick to be useful for sandwiches or toast. any suggestions?
I've found that it really depends on the texture/structure. I finally found a great recipe for an oatmeal bread that cuts nicely - thin enough for sandwiches. Now I'm playing with it to add more ww flour in, since the original recipe calls for white bread flour.
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Old 05-06-2008, 04:24 AM
 
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Nothing to add yet, just wanted to sub!

Mama to Munchkin  and Chickadee ...and co-parent to 3 additional bundles of energy!
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Old 05-06-2008, 11:55 AM
 
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Boy, what great advice! I am trying to balance eating organic and locally with eating cheap and there is so much help here. I'll post back soon after I see how I do!
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Old 05-06-2008, 11:59 AM
 
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I've been having a lot of success lately cleaning out the pantry and freezer and making meals out of what we already have. Seems obvious, but it's been really working for us. I only spent $35 on groceries this week doing that.

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Old 05-06-2008, 12:03 PM
 
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For those suggesting vegetarian meals instead of ones with meat, do you find that really works? I find when I try to bulk up the meal with enough veggies that it makes DH full, it is not any cheaper! Either that or I have to add another side, again making the price go up. Am I the only one with that problem? Maybe I'm doing something wrong!

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Old 05-06-2008, 12:06 PM
 
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Honestly, for vegetarian meals I always think more along the lines of beans, rice and TVP. Making an entire meal w/ lots of fresh produce will be expensive.

Mama to two lovely boys and a new baby due mid-May 2011
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Old 05-06-2008, 12:21 PM
 
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Oh we can't eat soy, maybe that makes a difference. Also, if it is something like rice and beans or veg quesadillas, etc. he will eat so much of it to "fill up" that then there is no leftovers for lunch the next day (which there usually are) and so I'll have to make something else. I guess I'm saying if it doesn't have meat we have to have a lot more of what it still seems to cost about the same as say using ground beef or chicken when it's on sale to fill him up. We still do have veggie meals, as I think its healthier not to have meat at every meal, but I just don't find it cheaper. But I could be wrong, or maybe it's just my DH!

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Old 05-06-2008, 08:56 PM
 
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I have not read this whole thread but will work my way through it as time permits. I really would like some help with a few things and have some ideas to offer too.

Today we received our weekly grocery ads and one of them says that if we buy a $300 gift card for their store we get 10% additional (an extra $30) free as a bonus on the card. This same store also offers double coupons and this week they sent me a coupon for $5 off an order of $75 or more. This is not a store that I frequent, but they do have weekly items (loss leaders) that are great deals and with double couponing some items will be great buys. I am thinking of buying the card and then seeing how far I can stretch that $330. I won't do the majority of our shopping there but will pick up only items that are great deals and then do the remainder of my shopping at one or two other stores. Does anyone see any drawbacks to this or have any advice on making the gift card stretch?

Also, we were gifted a rice cooker over the weekend and I am planning to try to steam rice and various other items. What foods would you recommend steaming in here? I know I'll do vegetables but I think someone had said here last summer that they steamed fish? maybe other items? I'd love recommendations! One reason they recommended using it was that it didn't heat up the kitchen in the summer time. I think that's marvelous and I'd love to have some recipes perfected by then.

Where can I buy TVP??

Thanks all!
I'll post helps to others as I read through the thread! : )
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:55 PM
 
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[QUOTE=GenB;11144861(from Target/walmart, etc.) and we use it constantly. It really keeps food from the dreaded freezer burn that used to plague us. ![/QUOTE]

This was actually mentioned in the latest Consumer Reports mag. They found that the handi -vac and the food saver both do a good job of preventing freezer burn.
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:17 PM
 
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As far as good recipes, Everyday Food magazine is very good. Simple ingredients, all their recipes taste really, really good. I pick up an issue whenever their focus is on something we eat. For example, one issue was devoted to light cooking, another to just chicken, another to sweets, etc. It's the only cooking magazine that's worth it, imo. Recipezaar also has good, ethnic recipes.
ITA about Everyday Food! I just started subscribing to it and we have LOVED the recipes! Simple recipes, generally short prep times, and delicious food. I also love the pictures, I'm visual and it really helps to see the recipe.

Baking mama to dd (7.5), ds (6), ds (3.5) and someone new in April
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Old 05-06-2008, 11:14 PM
 
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These are the methods to my madness:

-use less meat (stretch or replace with beans, avoid meat-centric meals) and dairy (the other half of my family is lactose intolerant anyway)
-beg, borrow, and garden, and freeze the results (lately the abundant freebies have been rhubarb and asparagus)
-base my meal plan on what's on hand and what's on sale
-do not buy breakfast cereal, except oatmeal (in bulk, for eating as oatmeal or homemade granola)
-bake treats such as homemade bread, desserts that use free fresh or frozen ingredients (rhubarb, squash, apples), etc. instead of chocolate chip cookies and that type of thing
-rarely eat out: stave off the temptation by making good homemade pizza occasionally and having pre-homemade frozen things on hand for when I don't feel like cooking (meatballs, biscuits)
-very few premade snack foods and no pop
-bring our own lunch along to everything!

I have one wonderful husband and one wonderful little toddler boy!
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Old 05-06-2008, 11:22 PM
 
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Subbing

I have a new and exotic recipe addiction Even though I love cooking from home and from scratch I always want to try something new, which means I have to buy exotic ingredients!

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Old 05-06-2008, 11:32 PM
 
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Where can I buy TVP??
i find it in the bulk section at whole foods, and in a bob's red mill package at albertsons and kroger stores (smiths). i think there is also a food storage place online you can get it from.

i'll try to find it for you..

ETA: here is a website that sells it: http://www.frontiersurvival.net/cat-...s--soytvp.html

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Old 05-07-2008, 01:30 AM
 
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Imitation crab meat (really pollock fish) and smoked salmon make good substitutions for sushi grade fish and taste really really good.
Be careful with imitation crab. Depending on the brand, some of them are full of crap, some of them even have HFCS in them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyLamb View Post
I have a question for those who bake their own bread:

how do you slice it?
Practice, practice, practice.

It's important to have a sharp knife, serrated, that is long... generally speaking a bread knife will be at least 10 inches long. Don't try to slice bread when it is the slightest bit warm. Put the loaf on its side so you don't crush it, and let the knife do the cutting. Then determine what is a "good" thickness... is that the width of a finger? a pinkie? fingers are the easiest measuring tool, but you can even use a ruler if you need to. Measure off the width you need and slice, really paying attention to keep the knife moving straight down. After a while, you won't need the measuring tool and won't need to pay that much attention anymore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wife&mommy View Post
I guess I'm saying if it doesn't have meat we have to have a lot more of what it still seems to cost about the same as say using ground beef or chicken when it's on sale to fill him up. We still do have veggie meals, as I think its healthier not to have meat at every meal, but I just don't find it cheaper.
You're not alone there. Especially because we can't have soy or grain, our choices are limited. Two things to think about though... if you're removing meat, you need to be sure to add in plenty of fat. Fat triggers satiety. Also, when I stopped putting the dish of food in front of my DH, he started eating less. I plate our food in the kitchen and leave the leftovers in there. Then if he wants it he can go get it, but I've found that only maybe once a week does he want more.

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Old 05-07-2008, 09:56 AM
 
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lurking around.... Currently trying to stop the massive outlay of cash that has happened lately. I have actually just enlarged the garden-more than doubling it- so as I have raise beds(it is impossible in my ground not to) it cost a little bit of cash. I am hoping that this year I will be able to put quite a bit of things up though. I have about 25 broccoli plants a dozen tomato and various other things.

Like Cristeen we don't do grains, so that makes it a challenge to cut the meal a whole lot, I also don't do meat substitutes either, or dairy. That really leaves meat, fat and veggies.

I am working on:
-buying more things in bulk
-having dh shop- on a full belly- with a list- if we all go it seems to cost more
-using the discount stores for the convenience food dh likes- I can also find healthfood items there a lot
-making sure I use up what I have and not letting things go to waste

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Old 05-07-2008, 06:23 PM
 
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I joined one of our local CSAs today. I talked to our neighbor who did it last year and she said they got a ton of vegetables. I got on the waiting list for another local one that does more fruit and am going to try that one next year (possibly both, if this one goes well).

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Old 05-07-2008, 09:01 PM
 
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I checked out Frontier and it seems way expensive. Is there something that I'm missing?? : )

I love the idea of "eating out" by going to the supermarket. We are going to start doing that on Sunday afternoons.

I wanted to ask this too! I was checking into a CSA near us and it would require driving about 30 minutes one way once a week in order to go pick things up. I'd like to join but hardly see it as convenient and with the gas the way it is. Well you know...
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Old 05-07-2008, 09:27 PM
 
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I'm sure this might all be repeat, but I'm just thinking out loud about changes we've made lately:

-- I'm making all of our breads, buns, pizza crust, tortillas, baked goods.

-- We're doing breakfast for dinner once (or more) a week. Either some kind of egg dish, pancakes and fruit, egg burritos, etc. We're also doing other meatless meals at least 2x/week, one is usually meatless pasta, the other bean based. When we do have a meal with meat, I try to cut down where I can, and I buy meat in bulk at Costco.

-- Breakfasts are always fruit along with oatmeal, toast, steel cut oats, pancakes, or eggs... no cold cereal or other prepackaged items.

-- Weekday lunches are more frequently finger food plates: a couple slices of cheese, a slice or two each of an apple, orange, or banana, cut carrots, celery, or avocado. Applesauce, a few yogurt raisins, a slice of homemade bread with a smear of PB or cream cheese, butter or honey.
Maybe a few nuts or seeds, a bit of leftover this or that. I'm much more mindful about not wasting food, and using up what we have. Plus, my kids eat better when they have lots of choices! And this way, I slice one or two pieces of fruit or veggies and we all snack on it, versus giving each child his or her own apple, kwim? ... (and in my case, I usually would wind up tossing the rest! )

-- I was meal planning and shopping once every two weeks. Now I shop once a week and meal plan according to what's on sale, particularly with produce.

I only spent $64 on groceries this week, even buying mostly organic!
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Old 05-07-2008, 09:48 PM
 
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We need to cut back too. We were pretty good with our food budget for awhile, but DD's birth kind of threw things into a shambles, and now we seem to be running out to the supermarket far too often.

We also need to get out of 'treat mode'. My late-pregnancy cravings and discomfort meant that we were buying a lot of chocolate milk, ice creams etc to console us, and it's a hard habit to break. Right now we both feel deprived if we run out of chocolate or want ginger beer but can't afford it, and that's not a good mental or financial attitude to have--none too healthy, either!

Soooo, I went grocery shopping yesterday, and we're going to try not to spend any more for the next two weeks. I'll try to coax the last green beans from the garden, and we can eat up the last two harvested pumpkins. I even might be brave enough to try the silverbeet! Then we'll eat the last of the frozen meals I made for postpartum, and *then*--last, I imagine!--we'll go through our cupboards and eat all the weird grains and bulghur and stuff that we don't really like. Luckily we have plenty of onions; I wish we had some canned tomatoes, but I guess this'll force me to be creative. (Am I the only one who tends to put a can of tomatoes in everything?).

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Old 05-07-2008, 11:18 PM
 
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Ooh, yeah, breakfast for dinner. I try to do this once a week, too. Homemade pancakes are sooo cheap.

Mama to two lovely boys and a new baby due mid-May 2011
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Old 05-08-2008, 11:52 AM
 
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Ooh, yeah, breakfast for dinner. I try to do this once a week, too. Homemade pancakes are sooo cheap.
I love breakfast for supper (pancakes, french toast, cornbread, eggs on toast), but my dh (ha, that's the first time I've used that abbreviation and it still seems strange to me) is very reluctant about it. Without meat (protein coming from eggs, etc.) he thinks it is just not hearty enough or something, and breakfast meats such as sausage and bacon are greasy/unhealthy and make him feel sick. Right now we compromise and do it just every once in a while. Is there anything I can serve with breakfast to make it seem...less breakfasty? Hmm, maybe I should try hashbrowns.

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Old 05-08-2008, 03:10 PM
 
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I love breakfast for supper (pancakes, french toast, cornbread, eggs on toast), but my dh (ha, that's the first time I've used that abbreviation and it still seems strange to me) is very reluctant about it. Without meat (protein coming from eggs, etc.) he thinks it is just not hearty enough or something, and breakfast meats such as sausage and bacon are greasy/unhealthy and make him feel sick. Right now we compromise and do it just every once in a while. Is there anything I can serve with breakfast to make it seem...less breakfasty? Hmm, maybe I should try hashbrowns.
Veggie Quiche/Frittata - lots of veggies give a sense of "meatyness"
Breakfast casseroles - potatoes, veggie sausage, cheese, eggs, salsa
Omelets - what veggies does he like? Fill 'em up!

We do smoothies all the time, too, they're very filling.
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Old 05-09-2008, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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home made pizza and make your own dough is a huge food stretcher. We do it weekly. The cost of cheese in bulk that I shred and freeze is the cost of one take out pizza.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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